I was sitting on the porch swing of a cabin at a campground near Eunice, Louisiana. It was my first 24-hour retreat since being in full-time vocational ministry. And it was long overdue.
I was a couple years into my current role as a Lead Pastor and feeling somewhat overwhelmed. I was beginning to feel a desperate need for something different in my spiritual practices.
So I spent some time at this campground for the singular purpose of meeting with God. On that sunny afternoon, I sat on that swing praying with my Bible, a small notebook, and a bag of Doritos (Not the fun-size, mind you. The family-size).
As I sat there chomping on those Doritos, I thought to myself, “It’s 2 o’clock. If I keep eating these Doritos, I’m not going to have any room for dinner.”
And just as clear as can be, a stream of thoughts began to flow through my mind. I began to realize that in order for my spiritual health to change, I had to first change my “spiritual diet.” Just as one’s food intake is limited by stomach space, my spiritual appetite is also finite. If all I do is consume the spiritual junk food of the environment around me, there is not enough space in my soul to crave (let alone receive) the true nourishment of God’s living presence.
The ancient first-century Jews were looking for a Messiah who would liberate them from Roman oppression. For hundreds of years they had been ruled over by pagan, enemy nations. First, the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, then the Persians, then the Greeks, then the Syrians, then finally the Romans. And the Romans, in particular, had a tendency to be rather violent and oppressive.
And the Jewish people were sick and tired of it, to put it mildly. Over the course of several centuries, the prophets had promised them that God was going to raise up a Messiah, a coming King who would deliver them and establish his kingdom, reigning forever. And they were desperately longing for this Messiah.
I’m a book geek. I won’t hide it, nor will I apologize for it.
Over the last few years, reading has played an indispensable role in helping me discover a richer, deeper, more satisfying life with Christ.
But it’s not just reading, per se. It’s learning what to read and who to read. Like digging for gold, you’ve got to know where to look.
So I figured I’d share some of the books and authors that have impacted me the most. There are many, many really good books that I could recommend, to be sure. But for me, these are in a separate category.
So here goes, in no particular order…